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Top Marathons Form Majors Series

January 23, 2006

LONDON (AP) _ Five of the top marathons have combined to create a two-year series that will award $500,000 to the men’s and women’s winners.

Organizers of the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons said Monday that the World Marathon Majors series is intended to increase the profile of the 26.2-mile races.

The Olympic and world championship marathons will also count in the series, which starts with the Boston Marathon on April 17.

``Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S. and French Opens are to tennis,″ New York City Marathon race director Mary Wittenberg said.

Paula Radcliffe, winner of the London, Chicago and New York marathons, said the move was a ``big step forward″ for the sport.

``Having experienced three of the events involved, I’m convinced that their combined expertise will help the sport immensely,″ Radcliffe said.

Runners will get points by placing among the top five in each race: 25 points for a win, 15 points for second, 10 for third, five for fourth and one for fifth.

Athletes would have to complete three races over two years to be eligible, but only four results will count.

``I feel for the first time that our efforts, our contributions have been recognized,″ marathon world record holder Paul Tergat said. ``We feel that in marathon always, to be able to compete effectively, we need to have this kind of competitiveness.″

The London Marathon is scheduled for April 23, the Berlin race is Sept. 24, the Chicago Marathon is Oct. 22 and the New York City Marathon is Nov. 5. All five marathons have contributed equally to the first series’ $1 million total purse.

This year’s world championship marathons in Osaka, Japan, will also be counted.

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